How well does your church know the local community? Do you know who lives in your community and what they do?
The local church exists specifically to be part of God’s mission in the world. To love and serve its local community to the best of its ability. In order to do this well, it is important that the church knows the community in which it finds itself.
There are all kinds of ways to do this and some of these ways are outlined in the Mission Planning Resource, ‘Understanding your Local Community‘. Methods include not just ways of collecting data but tools for creating a rich and full picture of your community that might help your church effectively plan for mission.
Community Social Profile
One really helpful tool is the Community Social Profile, developed by NCLS Research to help churches better understand their local community.
The free online census tool allows you to click on any area of Australia and get instant census results for that area. Churches can also purchase (for a modest cost of $220) a more detailed community profile containing:
- the demographics of the local community
- what is changing and local social trends
- how the community compares with Australia
- ways to strengthen connections with local residents.
The Community Social Profile is based on a physical address (centre point – usually the church) and any radius you specify from the centre point address (suggested radius is 2 km for urban areas and 5 km for rural areas). This means that you can decide what area in your local community you want your church to focus on. This could be used either as a tool for mission planning for your whole church or as part of a specific project that seeks to more clearly understand a particular part of the community.
You can view a sample of the Community Social Profile here.